Townships: Hopwood

Pages 170-173

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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Hoppewode, 1292; Eppewode, Oppewode, 1302; Hopwode, 1332.

The township of Hopwood, about 2 miles square, has an area of 2,126 acres. The surface is comparatively level; the highest point, about 460 ft., is near Siddal Moor, on the western border, from which the ground falls away to the south. Near the eastern border, a brook runs south to join the Irk at Middleton, passing through a little wooded valley, in which Hopwood Hall and its park are situated. Birch lies in the south-east corner. On the north the town of Heywood has spread into Hopwood, a considerable suburb having grown up. Gooden is situated here. The population in 1901 was not given separately.

The principal roads are those from Middleton and from Rhodes through Birch to Heywood, meeting in the suburb mentioned. The Middleton and Rochdale road passes near and along the eastern border, and has a light railway. Close to it proceed the canal from Manchester to Rochdale and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's railway between the same points. Both canal and railway have branches to Heywood crossing the northern end of the township; there is a station at Heywood.

A stone axe-head was found here.

The soil is sand, with subsoil of clay; wheat, oats, and potatoes are grown, and much land is in pasture. There was formerly moss land. There are numerous cotton-mills. A colliery was worked formerly. A large railway-wagon works, an iron foundry, and a brewery are carried on.

There were seventy-three hearths liable to the tax in 1666. The only large houses were those of the squire, viz., the Hall, with fourteen hearths, and Stanicliffe, with six. (fn. 1)

A local board was formed in 1863; (fn. 2) but part of the township was included in Heywood four years later. (fn. 3) The remainder was in 1894 divided between Middleton and Rochdale, so that there is no longer a township of Hopwood. (fn. 4)


As in the case of other hamlets in the parish, HOPWOOD was held of the lord of Middleton by a family adopting the local surname. Little is known of it, (fn. 5) though pedigrees were recorded at visitations from 1533 to 1664. (fn. 6) After the death of Edmund Hopwood in 161 2 it was found that he held the manor of Hopwood with its appurtenances, thirty messuages, a water-mill, 300 acres of arable land, &c., of Sir Richard Assheton as of his manor of Middleton, by knight's service and 5s. 8d. rent. He held other lands in Hopwood, Thornham, Middleton, and Manchester. (fn. 7) His grandson and heir, Edmund, lived through the Civil War apparently without taking any active part in it; (fn. 8) he was, however, a magistrate and served as sheriff in 1650, (fn. 9) and was also a member of the Bury Presbyterian Classis. (fn. 10) He was buried at Middleton, 6 March 1665–6. (fn. 11) His great-grandson, Dr. Robert Hopwood, died in 1762 (fn. 12) without issue, and bequeathed the estates to his wife for life, and after her death, which happened in 1773, to Edward Gregge of Chamber Hall in Werneth, who accordingly succeeded, and took the name of Hopwood. Services rendered during the incursion of the Young Pretender in 1745 are said to have been the motive for the bequest. (fn. 13) The estate has since descended regularly from Edward Gregge Hopwood, (fn. 14) who died in 1798, to his son Robert, who was high sheriff in 1802, (fn. 15) and died in 1854; his grandson Captain Edward John, who died in 1891; and his great-grandson, the present owner, Lieut. Colonel Edward Robert Gregge-Hopwood, born in 1846. (fn. 16)

Hopwood Hall is situated in a hollow on the high ground between Middleton and Rochdale about a mile directly north of the former town. It is a picturesque two-story brick building on a stone base, set round a small quadrangle, with the entrance on the north side and the principal front facing south. Though usually stated to belong to the Tudor period there is nothing in the house as it stands at present to suggest a date earlier than the first part of the 17th century; but it is possible that some of the brickwork in the south front may be before this time. The original arrangement seems to have been that the house was built round four sides of a courtyard about 60 ft. long from west to east and 30 ft. from north to south, with the great hall in the south range opposite to the entrance. In later rebuildings this first arrangement has been followed to some extent, but the hall has disappeared, and corridors have encroached on the quadrangle on two sides, reducing its size to about 50 ft. by 24 ft., and the plan is now that of a suite of living rooms on all four sides of the central space, with a large western servants' wing added in later times. The older parts are constructed with small 2 in. bricks, in contrast to much of the later work, but both the older and later buildings are of more than one date.

Gregge. or three trefoils slipped between two cheveronels sable.

Hopwood. Play of six argent and vert.

Architecturally the house has little distinction, the picturesque effect of the exterior from the southcast being produced by the gables and bay windows and by the pleasant colour of the red bricks and grey stone roofs, in a setting of foliage and relieved with ivy. The many well-designed brick chimneys, mostly with circular shafts, are also a good feature in the view of the house from this side. The north front is uninteresting, a general sense of flatness prevailing, though the elevation is an evenly balanced one with a wide six-light mullioned and transomed window at each side of the central archway, and three windows of six lights above. The entrance to the quadrangle is under a segmental arch with moulded jambs and label over terminating in an upturned volute, a detail repeated on the window-heads on this side, and towards the court. The original north wing is 60 ft. in length, the west wing having apparently been originally set back; but at a later time this has been rebuilt and brought into line with the north front, making a total unbroken line of frontage of over 80 ft. under one roof. The quadrangle itself now serves only to light the rooms and corridors, the entrances to the house being by doorways on either side of the main gateway, which is 10 ft. wide, and accessible only from the servants' wing either through the diningroom and smoke-room, or by going round the corridor on the south and east sides. To the east of the gateway is the entrance hall, and the range of apartments known as the saloon, library, drawing-room, oak room, and boudoir occupies the east and south wings, the diningroom being in the west wing. The north wing and the main part of the south wing are apparently of 17thcentury date, but in nearly all cases the stonework of the windows has been cemented and painted over and all detail lost, the mullions and jambs to the bay window of the oak room in the south front alone having been left untouched. They are, however, in a very crumbling and decayed state. On the east wing is a very good angle lead head with the date 1690 and the initials of John and Elizabeth Hopwood, but it is not in its original position, and to what part of the house the date refers is not clear. The south-east corner of the building (now the library) appears to have been erected in the 18th century, apparently in 1755, which date is on a spout head, and similar spout heads without the date but with a hart tripping, are in other parts of the building. A copy of an old drawing of the house now at the Hall shows this angle as first built with chamfered quoins, flat sash windows and hipped roof, and a low wing between it and the bay window on the east end of the north range. This low wing gave place some time in the last century to the lofty building with stone battlements and large mullioned and transomed windows of nine lights which is now the distinguishing feature of the east side of the house. In recent times also new stone mullioned bay windows have been substituted for the original sashes in the 18th-century portion, and a great stone bay window with three transoms has been added to the drawingroom in the south front, going up the full height of the room, which is equal to the two stories of the rest of the house; it replaces a former wooden bay of less height. Nearly all the distinguishing features of the south and east elevations are modern. The interior also is largely modernized, but contains two good oak staircases, one in the east corridor and the other at the west end of the south wing, both having square newels terminating in the Hopwood crest (an eagle's head, out of a coronet, holding in its beak a trefoil). The walls of the principal rooms are panelled with 18th-century oak panelling, and the house contains a great deal of oak furniture, the greater part of which, however, has been collected in modern times. The corridors go round the south and east sides of the quadrangle on the first floor as below, and the bedroom over the oak room on the south side retains its original oak panelling. At the end of the south corridor on the ground floor is an ingle nook nearly 6 ft. deep, with a good stone fireplace in which are carved the arms of Hopwood impaling a coat of eight quarters with the Hopwood crest and another, a hart tripping, the motto 'By degrees,' and the initials and date f g, 1658. The same date and initials occur on a stone fireplace in the boudoir, a small room in the south wing, but their claim to belong to Hopwood Hall in the 17th century is not clear, they having possibly been brought here by the Gregges from another place at a later date.

STANICLIFFE was an estate of the Knights Hospitallers, (fn. 17) held in 1612 by Edmund Hopwood. (fn. 18) Siddal (fn. 19) and Gooden are other parts of Hopwood; the latter gave a surname to the possessors. (fn. 20)

In or near Hopwood was a wood called Hawkshaw; (fn. 21) the name appears to be lost.

At Stanicliffe there was an ancient chapel. (fn. 22) In connexion with the Church of England, St. Mary's, Birch, was erected in 1828; the rector of Middleton is the patron. (fn. 23) The mission church of St. John lies within the borough of Heywood.

There are also chapels for the Wesleyan, Primitive, and United Free Methodists.


  • 1. Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
  • 2. Lond. Gaz. 16 Oct. 1863.
  • 3. 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 64.
  • 4. Loc. Govt. Bd. Orders 31671, 31625, 32287. Stanicliffe, Hopwood Hall, and Birch are now in Middleton; Gooden and Siddal in Heywood.
  • 5. The earliest known member of it is William de Hopwood, who in 1277 attested a grant by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln; Whalley Coucher (Chet. Soc), ii, 595. He attested other local charters of about the same time, e.g. Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 218. There was also a William son of William de Hopwood (ibid, i, 171), who attested a grant by Thomas de Hopwood in 1302 (Hopwood D.), and may be the William de Hopwood, witness to a Byrom deed of 1305; Byron Chartul. no. 29/18. Thomas de Hopwood appears as witness to charters and otherwise from about 1296 to 1330; e.g. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 305; Mamecestre (Chet. Soc), ii, 279. In 1302 Thomas son of William de Hopwood was defendant in a Middleton suit; Assize R. 418, m. 4. Adam the son and heir of Thomas de Hopwood, by a charter of 1325, granted to John son of Henry de Hulton, and Alice his wife, a rent of 9s. out of his manor of Hopwood, and tenements in Thornton by Chadderton, Clayden, and Manchester; John and Alice recovered the arrears in 1332; De Banco R. 290, m. 86. Adam de Hopwood contributed to the subsidy in 1332, was a juror in 1341, and attested a Byron deed in the following year; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 36; Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.}, 39; Byron Chartul. no. 13/177. He seems also to have been living in 1359; Mamecestre, iii, 454. Geoffrey son of Thomas de Hopwood appears in 1347 and again in 1388; Hopwood D. Thomas seems to have granted him certain lands in Middleton and Gristlehurst; but Geoffrey was outlawed for felony in 1370 or earlier, and died before 1397, when the executors of his will were called to render account for the lands forfeited; L.T.R. Memo. R. 162, m. 14 d. Four years later another Geoffrey de Hopwood claimed as heir, being son of Thomas son of Adam son of Thomas the grantor; ibid. R. 166, m. 118. A John de Hopwood appears from 1374 to 1381; De Banco R. 456, m. 10, &c. In 1433 an exchange was arranged between Margaret widow of Thomas Hopwood and John the son and heir of Thomas, her dower in the demesnes of Hopwood being replaced by other tenements; Booker, Prestiwich Ch. 253. A writ of Diem cl. extr. after the death of Isabel, widow of John Hopwood, was issued in 1436; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 36. A James de Hopwood occurs in 1451; Pal. of Lanc. Chan. Misc. bdle. 1, no 1. He may be the James with whom the pedigree of 1567 begins. Robert de Hopwood, rector of Middleton 1402 to 1462 (?), is said to have been a son of Geoffrey de Hopwood, and to have had brothers James, Lawrence, Alexander, and John; Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1868), i, 479. Thomas Hopwood is mentioned in several of the Agecroft Deeds, between 1475 and 1481; no. 82–4; John Hopwood occurs in the first part of the 16th century; Duchy Plead. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 86; ii, 84; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), ii, 151. In 1515 John Hopwood enfeoffed John and Richard Towneley of his estate in Middleton; Add. MS. 32104, no. 817.
  • 6. Visit. of 1533 (Chet. Soc), 57; this begins with Edmund Hopwood, though the above-named John, probably his father, was living. Edmund Hopwood of Hopwood is named in the will of Ralph Chetham, 1538; Axon, Chet. Gen. 18. Visit. of 1567, p. 19; the generations are given thus:—James —s. Thomas —s. John —s.Edmund [of 1533] —s. John —s. Edmund —8. John. The Visit. of 1664 (p. 152) begins with the last-named John; then —s. Edmund—s. John—s. Edmund, all three being alive.
  • 7. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 203–7. This Edmund Hopwood was a Puritan, and wrote to the Archbishop of York in 1590 to intercede for the like-minded clergy of his neighbourhood, who had been censured for 'breaking the order of the Church, established by authority, and not being contrary to God His word.' The archbishop's reply is given in Chet. Misc. (Chet. Soc.), v, with Canon Raines' notes, including an abstract of Edmund Hopwood's will. Later he appears as an opponent of Puritanism, regretting that 'fanatical and schismatical preachers' had taken refuge in his corner of Lancashire; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. i, 14, 15. His grandfather and he were in 1558 appointed supervisors of the will of Ralph Belfield of Clegg; and the younger Edmund and his wife Alice had a legacy of £20 from her father Edmund Ashton of Chadderton in 1583; Piccope, Wills (Chet. Soc), iii, 85; ii, 170. For Alice's monument see Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), vi, 258. The grandfather appears to have died early in Elizabeth's reign; and in 1567 a settlement was made by Edmund Hopwood of his estate of twenty messuages, 400 acres of land, &c., in Hopwood and Stanicliffe; Pal. of Lanc. Feet, of F. bdle. 29, m. 120. A further settlement of part was made by Edmund Hopwood and Alice his wife in 1584; ibid. bdle. 46, m. 182. A further settlement was made in 1598 by Edmund Hopwood and his seven sons—John, the heir apparent, Edmund, James, Leonard, Anthony, Richard, and David; the estate was described as the manor of Hopwood, and messuages, water-mill, dovecote, and lands in Middleton, Thornham, Siddal, and Hopwood; ibid. bdle. 60, m. 100. John Hopwood dying in 1600—being buried on 27 May at Middleton—a further settlement of the manor, &c., vas made in 1608; ibid. bdle. 71, no. 39. Details of a further settlement for Dorothy the widow of John and the younger sons of Edmund are given in the inquisition above cited. Administration of the goods of John Hopwood was in 1600 granted to Dorothy his relict.
  • 8. He paid £25 on declining knighthood in 1631; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 216. He was made a deputy lieutenant by the Parliament in 1642; Civil War Tracts (Chet. Soc.), 62. He was one of the feoffees of Humphrey Chetham; later Chetham feoffees were John Hopwood, 1682 to 1690; John Hopwood, 1695 to 1700; and Edmund Hopwood, 1710 to 1758; Life of H. Chetham (Chet. Soc), ii, 332–8.
  • 9. P.R.O. List, 73.
  • 10. Manch. Classis (Chet. Soc), 7.
  • 11. These and other dates are from the printed Middleton Registers.
  • 12. According to the pedigree in the Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), i, 343, Edmund Hopwood was succeeded by his son John, who was buried at Middleton in 1690 (?). Edmund, the eldest son, having died in 1671, John, the second son, succeeded; he was buried at Middleton 20 June 1700. His eldest son Edmund died without issue in 1758, being succeeded by his brother Robert Hopwood, M.D. Edmund Hopwood was sheriff in 1726; P.R.O. List, 74. There was a recovery of the manor of Hopwood in 1730, Edmund Hopwood being vouchee; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 533, m. 2. In the will of John Hopwood, made in 1689 and proved in 1690, he is described as 'of Stanicliffe;' his sons Thomas and Ralph are named in it. Robert Hopwood matriculated at Oxford (Christ Church) in 1713; M.A. 1719; M.D. 1726; became Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1736; Foster, Alumni Oxon. The Hopwoods of Horsedge in Oldham and Rhodes Green in Great Heaton are stated to have descended from Ralph, a younger son of John Hopwood, who died in 1690. The will of William Hopwood of Rhodes Green, 1702, mentions 'Elizabeth, relict of John Hopwood of Hopwood, esq., deceased, and Edmund and Robert her sons, and Katherine her daughter.'
  • 13. Edward Gregge, born 1721, 'becoming an intimate friend of Robert Hopwood, esq., the last of the original local family of the Hopwoods of Hopwood,' is said to have served as a substitute for him in the army during the critical times of 1745, and in consideration of this service Mr. Hopwood, being entirely without heirs, devised the estate of Hopwood to Mr. Gregge and his family, after the death of his lady'; E. Butterworth, Oldham (1856), 27.
  • 14. The land tax return of 1787 shows that he paid £27 out of £30 from the township.
  • 15. P.R.O. List, 74. Robert Gregge Hopwood was 'an intimate friend of Lord Byron.' After his death there was a great lawsuit respecting the succession, of which the following account is given by Mr. Harland:—'The last possessor of the Hopwood estates, producing an income of £7,000 a year, the late Robert Gregge Hopwood, esq., who was an aged man and had suffered from several attacks of paralysis, died 19 July 1854, leaving a will (dated 14 May 1853), which, with a codicil (of 12 Apr. 1853) to a previous will, became the subject of much litigation among his children. The will enlarged the legacies of two younger sons, alienated the estate from the eldest son, Captain Edward Gregge Hopwood, leaving it to Captain Hopwood's only son (then a boy of seven years) on reaching the age of twenty-one. If he died before that age, then to the Rev. Frank Hopwood, the testator's second son, and to his sons after him, to the exclusion of the captain's wife and daughters, and even of any son born to him after the date of the will. By direction of the Court of Chancery, the "great Hopwood will cause," as it was called, The Earl of Sefton v. [Captain] Hopwood, was tried at the assizes at Liverpool in April 1855, before Mr. Justice Cresswell and a special jury. It occupied six days, and the jury gave as their verdict that the alleged codicil and will were not made by the so-called testator—which was a decisive verdict in favour of the defendant, Captain Hopwood, the eldest son. He took possession of the estates and colliery on 24 May, and on the 26th, by a decree of Vice-chancellor Wood, the old will of 1829 and its three codicils were established, and the pretended codicil of April and the will of May 1853, were cancelled;' Baines, Lancs, (ed. 1868), i, 479; Heyivood N. and Q. i, 143. The Rev. Frank Hopwood was rector of Winwick from 1855 to 1890. The (third) Earl of Sefton married Mary Augusta only daughter of Robert Gregge Hopwood.
  • 16. Foster, Lancs. Pedigrees.
  • 17. Lands in Middleton were among the Hospitallers' possessions in 1292; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 375. By a charter of the earlier part of the 13th century, Syherit eldest daughter of Sir Richard de Stanicliffe (Staniclive), in her widowhood gave to Alan de Middleton all her land in Stanicliffe and any that might revert to her there, for a rent of two white gloves; Sir Robert de Middleton was a witness; Hopwood D. To the same Alan grants in the vill of Thornton made by his father Roger and brother Robert were confirmed by the superior lord, Roger de Montbegon; ibid. Adam son of Walter, and Godith daughter of Richard de Stanicliffe, granted to Richard de Hulton the third part of Stanicliffe 'to hold in frankalmoign of God and the house of St. John's Hospital of Jerusalem, rendering yearly to the said Hospital 16d. of silver at the Nativity of St. Mary;' Brother Alexander of the hospital was a witness; ibid. Roger de Stanicliffe and Syherit de Stanicliffe sold to Roger the Carpenter the chief messuage, two parts of a croft belonging to it, and the twelfth part of all Stanicliffe, to hold as above, rendering 4d. a year to the hospital; Roger de Middleton and W. the Clerk his son were witnesses; ibid.
  • 18. In the inquisition already cited it is stated that he held messuages and lands in Stanicliffe 'of the King as of the late priory of St. John of Jerusalem in England' in socage, by 4s. yearly rent—this agreeing with the rents of 16d. for a third and 4d. for a twelfth part of the charter given in the preceding note. Sarah Hopwood, one of the daughters of Edmund Hopwood, lived at Stanicliffe; her will, made in 1642 and proved in 1664, abounds in family names. She was buried at Middleton 18 Jan. 1644.
  • 19. Lands in Sydal or Siddal and Middleton were included in the Kersal cell estate purchased in 1548 by Ralph Kenyon; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 13, m. 152. The place is also named among the lands of Richard Assheton of Middleton in 1619; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 105, 107.
  • 20. In 1292, and again in 1302, Thomas de Hopwood released to his brother Alan all claim on lands in Gooden (Guldene); Hopwood D. In the latter year William son of Hugh de Gooden (Guledene) made a claim for common of pasture in Middleton, but did not proceed; the defendants were Peter de Heywood and his sons, and in the second case Thomas son of William de Hopwood; Assize R. 408, m. 5; 418, m. 4. Eight years later, Alice widow of William de Gooden claimed dower in a messuage, 12 acres of land, 6 acres of meadow, and 12 acres of wood in Middleton; Thomas de Hopwood, the defendant, replied that her husband was not seised of the tenement as of fee on the day he married her or afterwards; De Banco R. 183, m. 132. Adam de Hopwood in 1333 granted to Agnes daughter of Alan de Hopwood and her heirs all her father's lands in Gooden in the town of Middleton, with common rights in Thornham, Pilsworth, and Hawkshaw, for the rent of a rose yearly; Hopwood D. Agnes, as widow of William son of Henry de Heywood, in 1347 granted all her lands in Gooden to Geoffrey son of Thomas de Hopwood; ibid. Ten years later John de Stackhill and Agnes his wife granted to Geoffrey son of John del Holt all their lands in Gooden in Middleton for his life; Agecroft D. 338. At the end of the 17th century Gooden (Goulden) was owned by James Holt of Stubley; Manch. Free Library D. no. 106, 110, 112, 116. His predecessor, Robert Holt of Stubley, died in 1561, holding messuages, &c., in Middleton of Richard Assheton of Middleton in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, 15. Earlier still, in 1388, Robert son of Geoffrey del Holt held lands in Middleton; Final Conc. iii, 31. Two messuages 'called Golden' were in 1538 held by Ralph Bury of Sir Richard Ashton of Middleton; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. viii, no. 24. Richard Bury of Gooden was a freeholder in 1600; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 248. Richard Bury died in 1614; in his will are named his children Joseph, Deborah, and Richard. The will of John Bury, made about the same time, speaks of Richard Bury 'heir of Gooden.' The Goulden or Gooden family occur in other townships; they had land in Bamford in 1282; Final Conc. i, 157.
  • 21. It is mentioned in a Hopwood Charter cited above. In 1292 David de Hulton was nonsuited in his claim against Roger de Middleton and Thomas de Heaton for partition of a wood in 'Haukeshogh;' Assize R. 408, m. 36 d.
  • 22. E. Butterworth in 1839 wrote:—'According to tradition there was once a chapel here, but this is unlikely; yet it might be a small oratory for the tenantry of Hopwood;' Middleton, 51. Canon Raines a little later says:—'Stanicliffe is a timber and plaster house, having a private chapel;' Notitia Cestr. ii, 101.
  • 23. E. Butterworth, ut supra. The chapelry was constituted in 1842; Lond. Gaz. 27 Sept.